Mariel Sanchez

Mariel is a graduate student at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, focusing on human security and international development. She is originally from Mexico and has spent time studying in France and doing volunteer work in Costa Rica. Prior to her graduate studies, she was a case manager and legal representative at the YMCA International Services, a refugee resettlement agency in Houston, Texas. Her cases involved immigration relief for victims of crime, asylum seekers, and family reunification for refugees and other low-income immigrants. Before starting in immigration law, she worked for a disaster relief program, where she provided case management and direct assistance to hurricane survivors. She also has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin. This summer, she continued her work in the human rights field with EPAF, further exploring issues of transitional justice and post-conflict development. After the fellowship, she wrote: "The fellowship kept me very busy and I enjoyed having variety in the work. I liked being able to contribute practical skills in preparing a grant proposal and a marketing plan, while also having the opportunity to be creative in designing a website, writing AP blogs and making videos. For me, the best part about the fellowship was that I wasn’t just doing a job, but that everything I did had the greater benefit of supporting human rights. Also, working with the people of EPAF and learning the stories of the conflict directly from the victims were the most rewarding aspects." Contact: msanchez@advocacynet.org



Memory, Forensics and Fútbol

05 Jul

The EPAF 2015 Field School in Peru is off to a great start. Following two days in Lima exploring memorial sites, on Wednesday, June 17 we began the 6-hour drive to our first stop, Huaytará.

This year’s field school participants come from Canada, Chile, Brazil and Spain. I am surprised at the diversity of their backgrounds, ranging from experienced archeologists to a former professional ice skater. I am also impressed by their choice to spend vacation time, days away from their families and from the comforts of home, to come to the Peruvian Andes to learn about a conflict that ended 15 years ago and visit communities whose stories are not often seen or heard.

When asked what they expect from the program, the students said they hope to gain skills to use in the contexts where they work, learn how EPAF establishes long-term relationships with families of victims, and absorb as much understanding and experience as possible.

EPAF Field School - Peru A very intelligent group of women: students of the EPAF Peru Field School 2015.

During the last couple of days, members of EPAF have led presentations and discussions on the theory and context of the conflict in Peru and its consequences. In his lecture on Memory and Memorialization, Jesus Peña, project coordinator at EPAF, spoke about the construction of victimhood and the opposing narratives that exist in Peru as a result of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Fujimorism.

Jesus explained several issues that resonate with themes I’ve studied in my university courses and witnessed in my previous work with victims of armed conflict. For example, the problems that occur when human rights organizations and governments build the narratives of victims as passive subjects; impose a discourse of rights in communities unfamiliar with the concept; and create memorials without consulting the victims. Jesus illustrated these problems with case studies of memory sites throughout Peru.

EPAF Field School - PeruEl Ojo que LloraStudents visited “El Ojo que Llora” in Lima. “The Eye that Cries” has been a subject of controversy due to the decision to include only the names of “innocent” victims. After several acts of vandalism committed against it, the memorial is now closed to the public most of the time. Peruvian NGOs have taken responsibility for visitors and for the upkeep of the memorial.

Something that has stood out for me in the field school is how EPAF uses its strengths in the areas of forensic investigation, memory projects and community empowerment to give students an idea of all the different pieces that must come together in post-conflict work. One minute we were discussing with Jesus the reasons why memory sites fail, and in the next session we learned how to identify gunshot wounds and torture fractures in exhumed bodies from Franco Mora, one of EPAF’s forensic experts.

EPAF Field School - Huaytara, Peru Jesus and Franco presented lectures on memory and forensic investigations respectively.

As the sun set on Huaytara, Raul Calderon, a psychologist who works with the families of the disappeared, guided us through a series of exercises he often uses with the communities to build trust and solidarity. Raul provides accompaniment and psychosocial care to relatives of victims to support their participation in legal processes and assist in their emotional recovery.

EPAF Field School - Huaytara, Peru Bringing EPAF and field school students together: Raul led games and exercises to energize the group and show lessons learned from his work with the local communities.


After a busy schedule everyone needs a break. Our days end with long dinners and hot tea while we watch Copa América soccer matches. Since half of the students are from Latin American countries, we celebrate the victories of each team, share frustrations over the defeats, and everyone cheers on Peru’s unexpected wins.

IMG_1394

Thus far, I feel very fortunate to be working with an organization whose approach to interacting with and supporting victims from both sides of the conflict is admirable among community-based organizations. Percy told me we are just about to get to the “meat” of the field school. In the next few days we’ll be meeting the people and learning the stories of the communities affected by the conflict. I personally cannot wait.

[I recently returned from the field school where I had no Internet access. I’ll be collecting my thoughts and handwritten notes over the next couple of weeks and typing them into blog entries. I apologize if some of the entries seem out of date.]

[content-builder]{“id”:1,”version”:”1.0.4″,”nextId”:3,”block”:”root”,”layout”:”12″,”childs”:[{“id”:”2″,”block”:”rte”,”content”:”

The EPAF 2015 Field School in Peru is off to a great start. Following two days in Lima exploring memorial sites, on Wednesday, June 17 we began the 6-hour drive to our first stop, Huaytar\u00e1.<\/span><\/p>\n

This year\u2019s field school participants come from Canada, Chile, Brazil and Spain. I am surprised at the diversity of their backgrounds, ranging from experienced archeologists to a former professional ice skater. I am also impressed by their choice to spend vacation time, days away from their families and from the comforts of home, to come to the Peruvian Andes to learn about a conflict that ended 15 years ago and visit communities whose stories are not often seen or heard.<\/span><\/p>\n

When asked what they expect from the program, the students said they hope to gain skills to use in the contexts where they work, learn how EPAF establishes long-term relationships with families of victims, and absorb as much understanding and experience as possible.<\/span><\/p>\n

\"EPAF<\/a> A very intelligent group of women: students of the EPAF Peru Field School 2015.<\/em><\/span><\/p>\n

During the last couple of days, members of EPAF have led presentations and discussions on the theory and context of the conflict in Peru and its consequences. In his lecture on Memory and Memorialization, Jesus Pe\u00f1a, project coordinator at EPAF, spoke about the construction of victimhood and the opposing narratives that exist in Peru as a result of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Fujimorism.<\/span><\/p>\n

Jesus explained several issues that resonate with themes I\u2019ve studied in my university courses and witnessed in my previous work with victims of armed conflict. For example, the problems that occur when human rights organizations and governments build the narratives of victims as passive subjects; impose a discourse of rights in communities unfamiliar with the concept; and create memorials without consulting the victims. Jesus illustrated these problems with case studies of memory sites throughout Peru.<\/span><\/p>\n

\"EPAF<\/a>\"El<\/a>Students visited \u201cEl Ojo que Llora\u201d in Lima. \”The Eye that Cries\u201d has been a subject of controversy due to the decision to include only the names of \u201cinnocent\” victims. After several acts of vandalism committed against it, the memorial is now closed to the public most of the time. Peruvian NGOs have taken responsibility for visitors and for the upkeep of the memorial.<\/em><\/span><\/p>\n

Something that has stood out for me in the field school is how EPAF uses its strengths in the areas of forensic investigation, memory projects and community empowerment to give students an idea of all the different pieces that must come together in post-conflict work. One minute we were discussing with Jesus the reasons why memory sites fail, and in the next session we learned how to identify gunshot wounds and torture fractures in exhumed bodies from Franco Mora, one of EPAF\u2019s forensic experts.<\/span><\/p>\n

\"EPAF<\/a> Jesus and Franco presented lectures on memory and forensic investigations respectively.<\/em><\/span><\/p>\n

As the sun set on Huaytara, Raul Calderon, a psychologist who works with the families of the disappeared, guided us through a series of exercises he often uses with the communities to build trust and solidarity. Raul provides accompaniment and psychosocial care to relatives of victims to support their participation in legal processes and assist in their emotional recovery.<\/span><\/p>\n

\"EPAF<\/a> Bringing EPAF and field school students together: Raul led games and exercises to energize the group and show lessons learned from his work with the local communities.<\/em><\/span><\/p>\nAfter a busy schedule everyone needs a break. Our days end with long dinners and hot tea while we watch Copa Am\u00e9rica soccer matches. Since half of the students are from Latin American countries, we celebrate the victories of each team, share frustrations over the defeats, and everyone cheers on Peru\u2019s unexpected wins.\n<\/span>

\"IMG_1394\"<\/a>\n<\/span><\/p>

Thus far, I feel very fortunate to be working with an organization whose approach to interacting with and supporting victims from both sides of the conflict is admirable among community-based organizations. Percy told me we are just about to get to the \u201cmeat\u201d of the field school. In the next few days we\u2019ll be meeting the people and learning the stories of the communities affected by the conflict. I personally cannot wait.<\/span><\/p>\n

<\/p>\n

[I recently returned from the field school where I had no Internet access. I\u2019ll be collecting my thoughts and handwritten notes over the next couple of weeks and typing them into blog entries. I apologize if some of the entries seem out of date.]<\/span><\/em><\/p>\n”,”class”:””}]}[/content-builder]

Posted By Mariel Sanchez

Posted Jul 5th, 2015

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